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Why You’re Resting All Wrong And How To Fix It

Why You’re Resting All Wrong And How To Fix It

Life can be all activity. We have worries, tasks, questions and goals to work on. Those breaks in our day are few. It could be the end of the day, or a 15 minute opening in your schedule. Whatever is available, that is when you need to rest your tired limbs and mind.

So you sit in front of a TV and watch a CSI marathon. Or you take a TMZ.com break and scan through the latest gossip. That is what you and I call rest…and that is why you are resting all wrong.

We think we will rest by just taking away what made us tired. It makes logical sense, right? If you have a thorn in your thumb that is causing you pain, and you can remove that pain by simply removing that thorn. But the body and mind don’t always work that way.

Have you ever felt a bit numb or maybe even more tired after doing something mindless, like watching TV or staring at your office’s ceiling? Yeah, me, too. This means you weren’t truly resting.

There are three approaches to to get the rest you need, and they are all based on how your body and mind work on a biological level. These are: Acceptance, Change and Surrender.

Acceptance

Tiredness and stress build throughout time. This is called the allostatic load. Your mind owns this load, like an ever-growing to-do list. Every time a new item you need to consider comes up, it gets added to this to-do list.

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As you are already guessing, this affects your attempts to let go of all that stuff. Your mind will continue to run laps around that list unless you do something about it.

One way of shifting your mind’s “attention” is to Accept the reality you are in. When you are caught up in the milieu of things you don’t recognize that milieu. You just keep running; we keep chugging away.

This is where mindfulness can help. Being mindful means being aware of what is happening right now. It also means you are able to detach yourself from the hubub running around you. It’s as if you ceased to become You, the busy bee, and instead were watching You, The Busy Bee, the movie. You achieve an awareness beyond your to-do list–you transcend it.

This probably all sounds meta, but there’s a way you can easily achieve this, and that is through meditation. Meditation helps put you in that state of mindful awareness (among other great benefits). You rise above the taxing reality around you. You go to a space where you can breathe, in every sense of the word. Being aware of what is happening now helps release the tension and tiredness that comes with it.

Studies show that 15 minutes of meditation provide you the same amount of rest as one hour of sleep. That is how powerful of a restful reboot you can get from Accepting your reality.

Change

But the world keeps spinning. If you are not in a mindful space, walking away from something does not mean you have completely let it go. That’s not how you work.

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Our minds are great at focusing on something (finding an earring, chasing a goal). They’re not good at focusing on nothing (that is why negative goals like, “I will lose weight,” are hard to stick to). This is called absence blindness. Our minds have trouble holding onto what’s out of focus.

When you stop doing the work that has wiped you out and do nothing instead, your mind doesn’t follow along. It can’t focus on absence, so it keeps working on what was there before–the stuff you are trying to get rid of.

This is where Change helps. Just like working a muscle, you give that muscle rest by switching your efforts to another muscle. Instead of taking away, you re-direct the course of the snowball.

Winston Churchill, a man who led a nation through WWII and fought off the Nazis’ attempt to destroy his country (i.e. he was probably quite busy), said this about how we approached resting:

Change is the master key. A man can wear out a particular part of his mind by continually using it and tiring it […] The tired mind can be rested and strengthened, not merely by rest, but by using other parts. It is not merely enough to switch off the lights which play upon the main stage […] a new field of interest must be illuminated. […] It is only when new cells are called into activity, when new stars become the lords of the ascendant, that relief, repose, refreshment are afforded. – Winston Churchill, Painting as a Pastime

If you spent hours working on your computer, go for a jog.

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If you are tired of doing house chores, do some doodling outdoors.

If you spent the whole day doing mindless, monotonous work (which can most definitely wipe you out), do something mentally stimulating, like writing, or taking free online classes.

If you spent the whole day trying to outsmart Hitler, do some painting.

Work out a different part of yourself. It might seem counter-intuitive–replace work with more work?!–but it does the trick. You’ll not only stay active in a fulfilling way, but you’ll give that other part of you some much needed rest.

Surrender

Sometimes it’s all too much. You don’t want to center yourself. You don’t want to scribble or learn about anything. You just want to pass the heck out. Which means you should.

Fatigue is real. It’s not just being tired, it is being chronically tired. Your body is going into preservation mode (it can even cause bouts of depression).

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The only way to approach this is to surrender to your needs. Surrender is often thought of as a bad thing. It doesn’t mean you gave up. It means you’re bowing out for your greater good.

Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand and becoming comfortable with not knowing – Eckhart Tolle

To surrender means to shut down, i.e. sleep. It can also mean to indulge: give yourself a bubble bath, drink some hot cocoa and listen to music, or drink a beer and take a nap. Take care of yourself as if you were sick, because you kind of are. Just like when you have a cold or are injured, do what makes you feel good and helps you recover. Whatever you need to get yourself out of the red, you must do it now.

I encourage you to try these approaches today. Tweet at me to let me know how they’ve helped you get the rest you need.

In mindfulness, thrive.

Featured photo credit: Val Gardena Groden Marketing via flickr.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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